There are plenty of cellists who can jam, but Daniel Levin is as fearless and sometimes devastatingly intense as an improviser can get. He has an irresistibly fun new album of solo improvisation, Living, streaming at Bandcamp and an album release show coming up this Saturday night, Oct 28 on a killer twinbill with guitarmeister Brandon Seabrook‘s pummeling two-drum Die Trommel Fatale at Holo, 1090 Wyckoff Ave. in Ridgewood. The show starts at 8, the club’s web page is dead and nobody is saying publicly who’s playing when, but it doesn’t really matter. Seabrook and Levin cap it off with what could be a seriously volcanic duo set. Cover is $10; take the L to Halsey St.
The album’ first track, Assemblage, is a lot of fun. Shivers, pops, a monkey barking, a motorcycle revving, a tree being felled with a saw and a wolf whistle or two finally lead to steps to a door.
Generator is full of squiggles, furtive squirreliness. a few microtonal variations that bounce off a low pedal note and a droll interlude that could be breakfast in a coffee shop.
Baksy-buku goes from whispers to screams, then back, with an animated one-sided conversation. Levin can mimic pretty much everything on his four strings without any electronic effects.
The Dragon, an eleven-minute, amusingly detailed epic, focuses on what could be the prep work for fire-breathing devastation. These tracks are all close-miked with plenty of reverb, so every flick of the bow or tap of the fingers on the body of the cello is picked up. Levin uses this trope everywhere, especially in Symbiotic, which rises toward the kind of frenetic sawing he’s capable of generating before the piece fades to spacious warps and blips.
The album winds up with the whispery, rustling Mountain of Butterflies. Levin’s relentless dedication to evincing unexpected sounds out of his axe ought to be heard beyond the audience of cellists and bass players trying to figure out how he does it. And it makes a good soundtrack for a haunted house.